Saturday, November 6, 2010

7 Days 100% Local--Starting Today

Today is the first day. We woke up to a new day, the start of a week of eating only local foods and local ingredients.  We woke up and realized we had nothing for breakfast--no eggs, no coffee and muffins, no tea, no bread, no bacon, no oatmeal, no pancakes.  Why was this a good idea?

What We're Doing and  Why
We are trying to go seven days eating only 100% locally sourced foods.  This does not mean locally produced foods, like artisan breads.  It means only foods that are grown here or are made from ingredients that are grown here.  

Local can be a subjective word.  Does it mean within 20 mile radius?  Within an hour's drive?  Within the Willamette Valley?  Within Oregon?  For us, it mostly means foods that are grown withing about an hour's drive.  Most of what we're getting is from the farmer's market and most of those farms are within an hour or 90 minutes drive.  There are some things that come from farther away.  Grains grow best east of the Cascades, so our bread and pasta will be regional (Oregon and Washington) but the yeast for the bread is from our own house. 

We are doing this because we want to know what it really means to eat truly local.  It is easy to say "eat local".  What most people seem to mean by that is choose something that looks great at the farmer's market, then they go home and surround it with all kinds of things from everywhere around the world.  Having a local star with a foreign cast can hardly be considered a truly local production.  If the local food movement is going to be anything more than a curiosity, it has to be able to provide all the pieces of the pie.  If the desire really is to move form industrial agri-business to small batch, local food culture, then that local food culture has to be able to meet the omnivorous needs of the people involved.  It is understood that this will require some bending on the part of the consumers involved, but how much bending?  And in what ways?  We live surrounded by grocery stores and restaurants and food carts that literally offer a world of edible delights.  Is there really any way that a strictly local, non-industrial, small batch food ideology can realistically compete with that?  When faced with such outlandish and comprehensive competition, can the ideas of the local food movement be anything more than a whim?

We're taking seven days out of our lives to find out for ourselves.

7 Day Local Food SWOT
SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat) analysis is a device that is used by many types of business organizations to think through new projects.  It's a very useful tool that is intended to help the group consider things from several different angles. 

  • We're both pretty good cooks
  • We're familiar with using local ingredients
  • We're motivated
  • It's only seven days
  • We compulsively eat out.  We have food A.D.D.
  • Learning what eating local really takes, what the trade-offs are, and how/if it can be done.
  • Teaching my daughter about food
  • Eating healthier
  • Learning to be more creative with food
  • Learning how to be more purposeful with food
  • It's likely we'll shed a few pounds
  • 100% local food options are impossible to find on the menu of any restaurant, even the ones that bill themselves as local and seasonal.  
  • Coffee shops and social events = temptation
  • Can't run to the store if we forgot something
  • Limited food choices in Autumn might be too limiting
  • School lunches
  • Time limitations with the new baby
Things We Know Will Suck
Already, we know there are going to be some things that are tough to let go of.  Here is the current list:
  • NO coffee (and most teas)
  • NO scones, muffins or pastries
  • NO Cheerios, Cinnamon Life, or other cold cereals
  • NO fruit from other places
  • NO spices, including black pepper
  • NO beer
  • NO eating out in general, or at other peoples' houses

Here is a look in our refrigerator.  I took this yesterday just to get a glimpse of all the things that we will not be using.  Basically, we have to restock our food for the week. 

The Meal Plan
We don't really have a set menu for the week.  But we do have some ideas about what we'd like to eat and when we'll eat them.  

Breakfasts will mainly be eggs, toast, hot cereal, bacon, tea, milk, honey, yogurt (maybe).

Dinners will be mostly meat, veggies, soups, salads.  Maybe pasta one night if we have time.  Left-overs will be important.  Doing meals that will last 2 nights will be important.  Pot roast one night turns into lamb ravioli the next night.  Fritattas are quick on weeknights. Custards for desert make sense. 

Lunches are the hardest, especially when packing for an elementary school student.  Sandwiches go far here, hazel nut butter, jelly, fruits, hard boiled eggs, cheese, veggies, honey sticks.  

For drinks we're pretty much limited to water, milk, apple cider, and wine.  

Using all those components, I think we can swing a week of local only food.  We'll see.

Tonight will be braised boneless shoulder of lamb with roasted root vegetables.  I'll save the broth and use it for wild mushroom soup tomorrow. 

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